To the beat of the Mugenkyo drum

Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers
Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers

After enjoying a “life changing experience” in Japan, a one time rock musician was drawn into the world of a new kind of music and has been a dedicated follower ever since.

Neil Mackie spent two years learning from masters of Taiko- an oriental style of playing and performance which has its roots in ancient Japanese custom and religious ceremonies.

Its principal instrument is the drum, something which Neil had never played prior to his training in Taiko.

On arriving back in the UK, Neil and fellow Mugenkyo founder Mukuyi Williams were keen to introduce what they had learnt to a wider audience and the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers was born.

Nineteen years later and the collective are still going strong, with Neil and Mukuyi blending the traditions they picked up in Japan with more modern ideas.

“With western audiences not used to the ancient form of Taiko we wanted to give them a performance which showed them the whole picture.

“Although the music is obviously very important; there is a lot more to our shows. We have choreography, lighting and costumes as well; one of the segments is a UV-masked sequence which has gone down very well with audiences.”

As well as touring their show to a wide range of UK venues, Mugenkyo also use their base in central Scotland, where they relocated to from London in 1998, as a centre to teach the art to others and Neil said he hoped the company would continue to prosper.

“Fingers crossed we’ll be going for a long time yet. I’m proud that we’ve been going for nearly two decades now while other companies and venues we’ve played have fallen away.

“The best way to summarise what we do is to say that we have one foot in the past but also one foot in the future.”

*The Mugenkyo drummers arrive at The Maltings for a performance on Saturday, October 19 at 7.30pm.